First-Class Wars: Emirates Versus Singapore Airlines

We pit Emirates’ impressive first-class against Singapore Airlines’ highly-anticipated Suites and here’s the verdict.

Photo: Singapore Airlines

For decades, Emirates and Singapore Airlines (SQ) have boasted arguably the best first-class products in the world.

However, recent launches from both major airlines have paved the way for even more inevitable comparison between the two.

At the Dubai Air Show 2017, Emirates announced their new 777 First, Business, and Economy class products, soon after SQ wowed aviation fans with its new A380 cabin products.

While the latter has been compared to “hotel rooms in the skies”, thanks to its spacious bedroom suites; the former has been likened to “private jets” by virtue of its fully-enclosed suites.

Clearly, the two airlines have their sights set on the well-heeled clientele, offering first-class flights that hinge on a truly personalized and luxurious experience.

Here’s how we think they stack up against each other:

Photo: Emirates


Drawing inspiration from luxury trains, Emirates’ first-class cabins exude an unmistakable old-world charm with a modern outlook.

This is brought to life via the chandelier-style lights, pull-out cocktail table, full-length wardrobe, and even a leather notebook set that encourages travel journaling like from the olden days.

Yet, its color palette remains modern and sleek, taking after the interior of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with sleek hues of cream, gray, and gold.

Luxury aside, a good night’s rest is ensured as the fully-flat beds feature a “zero-gravity” position inspired by NASA technology for extra comfort, even during turbulence.

SQ’s revamped first-class suites, which are designed by Pierrejean Design Studio and manufactured by Zodiac Seats UK, have been designed to feel like a bedroom.

This means that passengers will feel right at home with a 21-inch wide leather chair upholstered by Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau, alongside a standalone full-flat bed with plush bedding and duvet designed by French luxury label Lalique.

Comparatively, Emirates takes the lead when it comes to presenting a more compelling and wholesome first-class experience that brims with sheer luxury. SQ, however, is perfect for comfort-centric passengers who fancy a cozy bedroom-style suite.

Photo: Singapore Airlines


For SQ, the new A380 configuration will feature six suites on the top deck arranged in a 1-1 pattern, with stowable beds that will measure up to 76 inches long by 27 inches wide.

Similarly, Emirates has six suites per 77W cabin, although it has a 1-1-1 configuration. Each of the seat is 78 inches long and 30 inches wide, going from an upright position to a full flat bed.

Despite the similar dimensions, Emirates seems to demonstrate a better use of space, with no separate bed and seat like what SQ has done. The Middle Eastern airline’s first-class cabin is roomy with baggage storage in the seat arm rest, as well as additional space below the television.

That said, for couples traveling together, SQ looks to be a better choice as the first two Suites of each aisle can be converted to form a spacious double bed.

Photo: Emirates


If personal space is true luxury, then Emirates has nailed it with its first-class suites, which are the world’s first fully enclosed cabins with floor to ceiling doors. Talk about a “private jet” experience.

Passengers who don’t like being disturbed will enjoy suites’ service window, where they can be served drinks and appetizers without having to open doors.

While SQ’s first-class suites are not fully enclosed, their new cabin offerings ride on the airline’s theme of “space made personal”, through separate sitting and sleeping areas.

Plus, passengers can enjoy a personal butler service via a wireless tablet, which at a tap, will dim the lights or order a nightcap.

Photo: Emirates

First-class experience

These days, making passengers feel special is almost as important as giving them great service.

Both Emirates and SQ offer customizable mood lighting, alongside a whole host of personalized experiences that make the first-class experience, truly first class.

Emirates’ first-class passengers get to view the sky through provided binoculars; with passengers in the center suites able to enjoy virtual windows with screens that project the view of the sky outside.

They can also shop to their heart’s content as they’re are entitled up to 70kg of checked baggage, which is more than three times the industry standard for economy passengers.

On the other hand, SQ passengers can enjoy a fully adjustable seat using an electronic control side panel which can accommodate a variety of sitting and lounging positions. Plus, the swivel capability of the chair (between 135 and 270 degrees) offers a recline up to 45 degrees.

Between the two, Emirates stands out for its additional on ground experience, which includes chauffeured rides in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class car for first-class passengers who arrive or depart from the UAE.

Photo: Singapore Airlines

Little things count

For seasoned travelers, the little things, from amenities to dining options, truly do count.

For SQ, their marketing campaign “The lengths we go to” showcases the airline’s attention to the finer details, such as sourcing leather from Glasgow’s oldest tannery and films direct from the Venice film festival.

This has indeed translated to the first-class suites, where the dining experience is enhanced with Wedgwood serviceware and Lalique-designed crystal glassware.

Passengers on selected flights will also receive an amenity kit with toiletries and perfumes or a unisex kit containing lifestyle items, specially designed and created under the co-brand partnership with Lalique.

Emirates offers similarly thoughtful amenities, with an Inspiration Kit, which includes a notebook and pen for jotting down stories, memories, and ideas. To freshen up, reach for the provided Byredo skincare collection, Hydra Active moisturizing pyjamas, and Bulgari amenity kits.


Emirates offers a luxury narrative that caters perfectly to the solo traveler, while bringing back the romance of travel. SQ, on the other hand, prides itself on a newfound focus on a comfortable flight experience that will certainly appeal to couples and families.


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